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Getting Better Of Late
London Midland Trains
Member Name: lynton1983
London Midland Trains
Advantages: Better for the environment!!
Disadvantages: Delays suck!
I have been commuting by train daily between Coventry and Birmingham for almost four years now and the change in reliability that I have experienced recently with London Midland trains has prompted me to write this review.
The main London Midland route runs between Liverpool Lime Street and London Euston. With regards to my journey, London Midland took over from Central Trains in November 2007 providing the service that calls at the local stations between Coventry and Birmingham.
As I touched on earlier, the main purpose of this review was to discuss the reliability of London Midland trains. Up until about two months ago I would have described it as poor with me being delayed on average by at least ten minutes at least once a week. Even when the delays on the trains were not particularly long, dependant on where I was travelling to or whether I needed to get a bus at the other end, slight delays could end up adding an hour to my journey. Now I accept not all delays are down to the particular train company but for the numerous delays of 6-10 minutes that I experienced, it was common that no explanation would be given so I can only presume it's a London Midland issue. My experience of late, however, has been a much more positive one with the trains that I catch (usually between 8am and 9am travelling to Birmingham and between 4pm and 6pm travelling to Coventry) being on time. It's funny how a train actually turning up when it's supposed to is seen as a positive!
For delays, London Midland have a compensation scheme called "delay repay" whereby for delays of 30 minutes or more you can claim compensation (in the form of London Midland vouchers), the amount of which depends upon the actual length of the delay and the type of ticket you have i.e. a single or return. I personally don't think the compensation given reflects the inconvenience caused but I accept it would probably cost them too much as a business otherwise. My usual significant delay is for between 30 and 59 minutes for which I get £1 worth of vouchers. Sometimes it hardly seems worth claiming however for those on a direct debit scheme, you can now save your vouchers up and return them once a year in exchange for cash. I envisage having enough vouchers to cover the cost of my direct debit for one month which is £64. This was not always the case for those on a direct debit scheme as this policy was only really introduced about 6 months ago so up until then you were given vouchers which were of no use as you paid for your ticket direct from your bank. I didn't lose out totally as I used to sell them to my brother at half their value! At least I'm doing better from it now!
When you are on a train and there have been notable delays I feel that you are kept informed of the situation and told what the cause of the delay was and the staff are usually apologetic! Although knowing doesn't change the situation, I personally prefer to be told what the cause is and it usually makes me feel less angry towards London Midland when the delays are apparently not their fault.
The London Midland website (www.London midland.com) like numerous others has a live running page where you can monitor the train times and see where there are delays or cancellations. This is particularly useful for me as my place of work is only 10 minutes away from the station meaning I can monitor the situation and leave 10 minutes before the train is due to arrive. This way if a train is cancelled, I can spend the thirty minutes at work accruing time rather than being sat waiting at the station for the next train.
For me personally, the regularity of the trains is fine. From larger stations there are usually other operators, such as Virgin, to choose from so assessing regularity is more relevant to the smaller "local" stations. On average there are about two trains per hour which I think is acceptable although the trains can be quite busy at peak times. Despite this, I can usually find a seat if I want one. When there are cancellations of earlier services then obviously this has a knock on effect with trains being crammed but my personal experience again finds this occurring very infrequently.
With regards the cost and value for money, this is difficult for me to assess as I buy a season ticket through a partner company that also includes the use of busses throughout the West Midlands. For me personally, £64 a month represents very good value.
Now onto the trains themselves. I find them to be comfortable and clean with very few problems with vandalism. When the trains are waiting to depart the first station on the route, there is often a member of staff who walks the length of the train picking up rubbish or newspapers that have been discarded. Staff on the trains have always been polite and approachable.
In summary, I think London Midland are a good organisation and I have a positive image of them. For me, train punctuality has improved and that is the most important factor. It is still not perfect but in my opinion deserves a better than average mark.
Summary: A good company to travel with.
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